11 July 2024

Indonesia’s military shot dead four students in the country’s restive Papua region during 2014 protests and carried out “gross human rights violations”, a commission investigating the uprising concluded Monday.


Komnas HAM issued its findings five years after the high-school students were gunned down in Paniai, a central area of insurgency-wracked Papua province, which shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea.

“This incident constitutes crimes against humanity,” the commission’s chief investigator Muhammad Choirul Anam told AFP in a statement Monday.


The military did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Komnas HAM said it had forwarded its dossier on the unrest to the country’s attorney general for possible prosecution.

The probe was hampered by long delays due to attempts by unnamed individuals to hide evidence, the human rights commission said.


– ‘Torture’ –

Rank-and-file soldiers and their superiors should shoulder the blame for the deaths of the students, aged 17 and 18, as well as “torturing” another 21 demonstrating Papuans, it said, without elaborating.

The protests were sparked by the alleged beatings of other Papuan youths by the army. Security forces eventually opened fire on a crowd after demonstrators threw stones at a military office.


The commission interviewed two dozen witnesses, analysed documents and visited the scene to determine whether the military was involved in the deaths.

So far no-one has been charged.


Indonesia’s military has been accused of committing atrocities against Papuan civilians during a decades-long rebel movement aimed at gaining independence for the province.

The Southeast Asian nation took control of mineral-rich Papua in the 1960s following a vote to stay within the archipelago that was widely viewed as rigged.


Papua has seen several spasms of deadly violence in recent months, including unrest partly linked to a fresh push for independence and ethnic tensions.

Ethnically Melanesian, most Papuans are Christians who have few cultural links to Muslim-majority Indonesia.